It's been a while since I shared yet another crazy retrospective format that we tried. Here's a new one, the "speed dating retrospective". This format makes it mandatory for everyone to actively participate and gives everyone the same importance. Which is particularly interesting when you have "loud-mouths" in your team.
It goes in 3 phases as follows:
1. Brainstorming (10 min)
In this first phase, every team member gathers the topics he/she wants to discuss, improve or find solutions for.
2. Speed Dating (n x 10 min)
In 10 minutes rounds, every team member will talk with every team members two by two:
- Round 1: Bob-Kathy, Mary-Josh
- Round 2: Bob-Mary, Kathy-Josh
- Round 3: Bob-Josh, Mary-Kathy
I would encourage you not to go over 5 permutations in order to keep this phase under 60 minutes. If your team has more than 6 members, leave some permutations off. Remember to create a permutation plan beforehand, it will help swapping the pairs faster and will prevent deadlocks.
The 10 minutes slots are themselves divided in (roughly) 2 x 5 min slots during which you discuss each others topics in turns.
After 10 minutes, one or two minutes might be required to write down information and consolidate the discussion before starting with the next round. Rinse & repeat.
3. consolidate (20-30 min)
Once everyone had a chance to discuss his/her topics with everyone else, we want to gather the most important points (1 or 2 per person maximum) and build a global list for the team.
The low hanging fruits can be picked right away. The rest should be prioritized and the top ones picked as "todos" for the next sprint.
I've used this retrospective format twice this week with great success. In both teams, the discussion was very constructive and every team-member had the feeling of having been heard.
As a moderator, I went from group to group, reminding the participants to seek action items, not just philosophy. I also kept an eye on the clock and gave signs when the 5 or 10 minutes were over.
In the end, I took over the prioritizing (with the second team better than with the first one actually) and paid attention that a really usable list came out of it.
All in all, a great format that I will re-use soon!
Cover Image: Blip_4, CC BY 2.0